The Right Coast

May 26, 2004
Just another quiet day in Jamul
By Tom Smith

All this happened within the last hour. I'm upstairs, trying to take a nap, because I'm feewing kind of siwck. Whether I'm coming down with something, or just sick of reading exams, I'm not sure. My 10 year old Patrick is home sick, watching cartoons. Suddenly, I am aroused from a near blissful drowse by Patrick saying, "Dad, there's a helicopter outside saying something on a loudspeaker!" I go downstairs, thinking, what does a guy have to do to get a nap around here? Sure enough, there is a helicopter circling our neighborhood, saying "Arrrr rrrr arrrgharrrrr! RRRrrrrr! We rrrrr ar ar rrrrr!" Good information to have. Is there a fire? Is this an evacuation? Some sort of terrorist thing? What I suspect it is is the border patrol, tracking down illegals trying to make their way through the mountains behind our house. I get out my binoculars and glass out the chopper. Hmmmm. It is not a border patrol chopper (green and white) but a San Diego Sheriff's Department chopper, circling in a very business-like manner. So I decide it's time to call 911.

What a confidence inspiring experience. "Hello. You have reached the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's Emergency Communications Center. All Operators are busy. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received." Just what you would want to hear in the middle of the night after you heard the crash of glass and drunken redneck laughter coming from downstairs. Be that as it may, in just a bit a bored voice came on the line. I explained they had one of their helicopters circling above my house, but I couldn't make out what they are saying. "Let me check," and then the dispatcher said "Do you live anywhere near Secluded Cactus Lane?" (A fictional street name, for privacy purposes.) "That's my street," I said. "Well, let's see, we're looking for four subjects [she said 'subjects' not 'suspects' for some reason], one of them armed, one of them white shirt, one with a red baseball cap, not a very good description . . . " she concluded, as if in disgust at all the lame descriptions she got from civilians, day after day. "Maybe I should stay inside," I said. "You should stay inside and lock your doors," she said. "I certainly shall," I said. No reason to let grammar slip at these moments.

My thought then was, "G*^&%$#it, this is why I wish I had a gun, so I wouldn't have to sit here with my 10 year old and baby and nanny, hoping four losers don't come strolling up my driveway . . . " Then I thought, wait a minute. I do have a gun. Well, I guess now is the time to get it out. So I unlocked the desk drawer it is in, unlocked the plastic case the pistol was in, and got it out. Then I pushed 10 .40 caliber cartridges into a magazine (from the 500 I keep in case of civil disorder) and looked at it. It looked funny. I had put the cartridges in backwards. I took them out. Put them in the right way. Heidi, our nanny, a country girl, laughed. "I did that the other night. I went out after a coyote with a shotgun, and had the wrong size shells with me!" I was glad the nanny wasn't freaking out over the sight of a gun. I didn't put the magazine in the pistol because it is a Springfield XD, a very slick handgun which loads very quickly and easily, assuming you haven't loaded the magazine backwards. I just put the magazine in my pocket, knowing I could load it in a flash if necessary. I tucked the pistol in my belt and felt sort of cool for a while. Nothing happened. Mark continued to suck on his bottle. The helicopter buzzed overhead. This was boring. So I went outside to see if I could see any bad guys. There was Dr. B across the street, fussing with his lemon tree. I thought of telling him there might be four armed men in the neighborhood, but he already thinks I'm half nutty.

Just another quiet day in the suburbs. Quiet. Boring. Don't get me wrong. I like boring, in a way. The helicopter flew away. They probably got bored too. I went back inside. Locked the gun and the magazine in the case. Locked the case in the drawer. Time to read more exams. When God intends you to read exams instead of take a nap, there's no point fighting it.
UPDATE: I should have known some would object to my having a gun and being capable of sliding ammo into the magazine the wrong way. Hadn't I studied this? Can't I field strip the piece blindfolded? In my defense I will say I caught the mistake right away, it is a new gun and so I've only loaded it a few times; the design of the XD's magazine is a little different from a Glock, which might be why I made the mistake, which I quickly corrected anyway. Further, I was walking around at the top of my 2 acre property, not on the street; there weren't any deputies around to mistake me for a bad guy, or bad guys either, apparently. And finally, I personally think I'm safer having a doubly locked, unloaded gun in the house rather than a loaded gun in a safe. I suppose it's possible some bad guy might think, hmmm, two large barking dogs, fully equipped martial arts area, let's pick this house. But I think they'll probably go elsewhere. On balance, I think I'll keep the gun well locked up against four mischevious boys. But yes, I should get to know my XD better, and I look forward to doing so. At the range.